Final Fantasy XIII-2

Returning role-playing legend looks sensational - but does it have the smarts to match?

It’s now 15 years since the PlayStation release of Final Fantasy VII brought the Japanese RPG franchise to the attention of mainstream gamers across the globe. But the intervening years have seen a change of fortune for developer Square Enix, with the Final Fantasy brand becoming a victim of its own success and struggling to live up to former glories.

Which brings us to Final Fantasy XIII-2, a genuine sequel to the last game in the series (which in itself is a bit of a rarity for the franchise). Not that you actually need to have played FF XIII to understand what’s happening here because a) there’s a ‘story so far’ video guide available from on the opening menu, and b) FF XIII-2’s plot is a bunch of time travel nonsense that makes very little sense.

Where this latest game does succeed to a degree is in combating some of the gameplay flaws present in the previous outing – meaning it’s a much less linear affair with a refined combat system. As expected, FF XIII-2 also looks and sounds fantastic, with the opening 20-min battle providing a solid showcase for the audio-visual highlights to come.

But while it looks great, the sequence doesn’t actually provide any real challenge, something else that’s true of the entire game that follows. An improvement on Final Fantasy XIII then, but only a rather modest one.

Square Enix, Xbox 360/PS3, £50 Approx , On sale now